Cafe AU Lait Anthology


My second comics anthology, once again organised/funded/edited alongside Sid Stones (Petrie Press). Sid wanted to make an anthology of thinly-veiled Coffee Shop AU fan-fic trope comics and after some initial protestation I conceded it was cute and funny enough to go through with so not long after that we were co-running another Kickstarter campaign to get it all printed up.

Campaign/book cover art illustrated by Hawberries

As with Starrytellers, I did most of the book design stuff and a lot of the physical fulfillment and KS reward work, including sourcing and budgeting. Dealing with the printer. Packing and actually mailing the bulk of the rewards and collating all the tracking info. In retrospect, I really did a lot on this one. We were ambitious with the rewards for Cafe AU Lait (well, the theme really called for it) and made ceramic mugs, tea towels and silicone coasters. We even did coffee paintings, which was a challenge!

I designed the mug and coasters, Hawberries’ endpaper pattern was also used for the tea towels.

Sooo many reward items to design, source, budget for, produce, ship (which required getting a whole slew of differently shaped boxes for different reward tiers)! It really was a tremendous amount of work. If I had to do it again I would change absolutely nothing about the rewards though. Some things you do because it’s a fun idea, not because it’s sensible.

Cover art by Hawberries, logo by Mamath

I also contributed a short story to the anthology, just 7 pages. I had wanted to make something longer and more involved but ended up burning out on all the other stuff and only managing a short sweet little thing. I won’t post all the pages since I still hope to convince people to buy some of the many books I’ll have at conventions over the next few years. 😉 But here’s a sampler:

The end book has 11 short stories (12 contributors, with one artist-writer pair) and came out to a very cute A5 book of around 150 pages, with black and white interiors and rose-gold foil on the cover. The contributors all worked very hard on their comics, even taking editorial like absolute champs! I would gladly work with any of them again.

Contributors! All this talent from around Oceania!

And with handy links:
Alyce Sarich
Briar Rolfe
Cameron Davis
Holly Adkins
Jennifer Reuter
Michel Gerencir
Phee Hawberries
Sid Stones
Teloka + Miss Pi
Tim Delaney

I learned a lot on this particular book. I would like to run another anthology eventually – perhaps next year – and apply that hard-won knowledge before it fades away. I think the number one change I would make would be having my own comic ready to go before recruiting other artists. Having done this twice now, I can say that trying to make a comic while also juggling every other aspect of an anthology and crowdfund is a pretty hateful experience (for me).

Some of those coffee and tea paintings I mentioned earlier – a mix of art by co-runner Sid (the two circular mug mark ones) and myself

I continue to be a big believer in comics being hard work and contributors deserving a guaranteed upfront payment so I’m saving my pennies for now, and hoping Cafe AU Lait pays itself off sooner rather than later so I can move the profits into the next book. Starrytellers did eventually pay itself off and turn a profit, so hopefully Cafe AU Lait follows suit. 🙂 I’m looking to quadruple the page rate on the next book though, so I have a lot of budgeting ahead of me.

Making books is stressful but it did come out pretty nice. 🙂

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